Saturday, October 10, 2009

Diggin deep and uncovering... me.

Weigh in this morning... I lost 8/10ths of a pound. Not quite the 7 pounds I lost last week, but I'm still just as excited for the 8/10ths as I was for the 7, that's for sure.

Although a small trophy, my 8/10ths trophy was earned from my diligent efforts this week:
  • I tracked everything I ate (in my new cutsie food journal notebook)
  • I exercised 6 times
But the most important thing I did this week was keep it all in perspective. I had a conversation with my (adult) daughter last night to explain what's been going on in my head so far as my attitude towards food lately and it felt good explaining these things out loud.

I feel like I've finally found the keys to the kingdom. I've gone through so many ups and downs since I started this wretched journey 2 1/2 years ago. I've gone from great successes on to subconscious sabotage because I was not worthy of the successes on to total complacency, and finally into my recent bout with the fear that I'll never be able to eat the way I want to for the rest of my life. And it's all brought me to the realization that my love for food isn't going to run my life any more. That was such a hard one to come to terms with.

I mean, first, it's realizing that my food addiction is just that. Now, mind you, I do not throw that phrase around lightly—food addiction. I think some of us use it as a crutch. I know I have for years. It makes it sound so much better when it sounds like it's not our fault that we eat like a cow. If feels good to hide behind an "illness" or something that is beyond our control. But the thing about an addiction—as with all addictions—is that they can be broken. If an alcoholic can quit drinking after 40 years, if a smoker can quit smoking a pack a day since they were 12, then that only leads me to believe that a food addict should be able to break the addiction, right?

My excuse has always been... but how does one break an addiction to food?? It's like telling an alcoholic that they must stop the addiction, but then they have to take one drink three times a day for the rest of their life. But break the addiction! Yea, right! Right?

With an addiction to something that our body needs to survive, it has to be different. It has to move from a physical reaction to the food to a mental, emotional and spiritual response. At least it has to for me.

So first, I had to start looking deep within my soul for exactly what "food addiction" meant to me. I had to put the crutch aside and dig deep to see what my reaction to food is. What is it about food that made me become addicted?

The taste, first and foremost. The texture. The smell. Those were obvious signs.

But what is it about the food that makes me crave it with every breath I take? Start at the beginning... when I first think about the food. I picture it in my head. I imagine what it smells like. I start wondering how satisfied I'll feel once I have it. (By the way, one of the tools you use to lose weight, is to plan ahead. Make smart choices long before the food is in front of you. Difficult to do for me, because that's when the dreaming started. But I'll go on.)

After that, I see the food. It looks amazing because I know how it's going to taste and how my body is going to respond to it. I smell it. I start anticipating it. I want it immediately. Immediately!

Then comes the best part... that first taste. But that was the key point for my discover and ultimate control over the addiction. The taste was the satisfaction part, sure, but I had to sit in that moment for a while. At every first bite, the food first passed my lips and rested on my tongue and I would pause and close my eyes, if even just for a brief second, to relish the taste and sensation and satisfaction. I'd take a deep breath so I could breath in the food at the same time as I was tasting it. I'd feel a complete warmth come over my body. A sensation like no other. A sensation that rivals sexual pleasure. When that warmth comes over my body, I feel it in every pore of my skin, in every cell of my blood, in every sensor I have in my body. The ultimate feeling of intense satisfaction and what I like to call "the world is right again."

This is the place where I was able to meet my addiction head on. This addiction was turning something that God had intended for us as fuel and sustenance into a perverse feeling of pleasure and profound contentment. I was confusing the body's natural reaction to being refueled and re-energized, which provoked the same exact feelings, with an emotional and spiritual reaction. Food was not meant to be an emotional reaction! It was meant to be a physical one.

So then it hit me. Dieting isn't about my body at all. It's not about my physical characteristics. For me, dieting is about, or rather should be about, retraining my body to react as God had intended. For me to turn my feelings and reactions back into physical responses.

Man that was a tough one. I really didn't think it was possible to turn my addiction to food—from which I draw the strength to keep living—back into what it should be, a physical response to nutrients filling my body's needs.

So here I sit, with this newly found realization, which I hope makes sense to you, and what I'm having to do is dig deep with every approaching meal to keep all that I've learned in the front of my head and in perspective. So that before every bite, before my every thought of food, that I remember that the food is to service my body, not my mind, heart or spirit.

It sounds so crazy to think that anyone could have feelings towards food that involve the mind, heart or spirit. I mean, good grief, it's food for crying out loud, it's not a spiritual experience or intellectual interaction or a heartfelt discussion. It's food! Fuel for the body. Sustenance. Nothing more.

So as I was sitting there trying to explain that all to my daughter, it felt good. She was proud of me. I felt so silly for a minute because here she is 20 years old and she already knew all of this. She's never had to deal with any addictions in her life. For me, by the age of 20, I was already fully addicted to food, but I had no clue that I was. But to see her smile at me and be so happy that I've learned this meant the world to me.

Has any of this that I've said make sense to you? Does it sound like alot of hooey? Does it sound like some psychobabble to cover up my overwhelming desires to eat everything in site? Does it sound twisted and nonsensical? Is this just me trying to create a cover up for the real problem—that I love food too much?



Dutch said...

Oh my gosh, I should copy & paste this whole entry into my blog because you are so good with the words about addiction to food. You hit it right on the mark. I lost 52 lbs. but have gained back 20 something since May & I have been lost on how to get back to eating right and exercising.
Thanks for this entry.

spunkysuzi said...

I have to say i couldn't have said it any better! And honestly i've been addicted to food for so long i don't even know when it started!!

Diana said...

It totally makes sense. I agree with the food addiction versus eating for sustenance and fueling our bodies.

I have the same addiction, and it's a hard one to overcome.

Great post!

jinxxxygirl said...

I hope this helps you reach your goal Cara. You lost me about half way through your post....heh heh..... but your sure seem to be doing the psycological work needed to make weightloss a success. You go girl! Me? I just want to like the reflection in the mirror more than i want foof. I took away foods power and gave it back to me.I say what , when, and where.

Shelley said...

Makes perfect sense to me, Cara, and speaking as someone who has overcome a different addiction, you are on the right track. I think that's what has helped me along my weight-loss journey - to apply what I've learned in a different program toward my attitude about food. You are so right in that the mental part is KEY to losing and keeping it off!

grammy said...

I just have a silly question for you. I use to follow Deborah at Mountain of weight loss, and just wondered if you know if everything is alright with her?

bluenotes said...

food addiction IS real! I hate it when people who are fortunate enough not to have to deal with this roll their eyes at me.

My parents, for example, are thin and exercise a lot but love junk food. I didn't inherit the skinny gene, and i told my dad the other day when I found a fridge full of my favorite chinese food that "if I was going to rehab for alcoholism, I wouldn't walk into a bar." but with food, you don't have a choice. food is everywhere! and it's necessary to live, too!

sometimes i don't know what people are thinking when they tell me "just say no". if it was that easy, would i seriously be fat? no.
thanks for writing this amazing post. =)